In our house, we love summertime. We love leisurely play dates and going to the pool. But sometimes our lunch routines get super monotonous and we resort to eating out too much. What’s a mom to do?
Summer is a good time to try new foods, since there’s an abundance of produce in the grocery store and the farmer’s market. It’s also a good time to bring your kids into the process of preparing meals – even your young children can help plan and fix a meal.
There’s so much to be learned while preparing food. You can talk about the names of different foods, and talk about ways to describe the color, shape, texture, and flavor of those foods. That’s vocabulary building, an important early literacy skill. And you can help your child learn how to measure ingredients; you can see how ingredients are transformed in the process of mixing and cooking. Those are early math and science concepts.
Even your preschoolers aren’t too young to participate. Your young children can wash produce, tear lettuce with their hands, stir ingredients, and spread butter or mayonnaise. Older kids can peel bananas or oranges, press the button on the food processor while making hummus, and use sandwich cutters to shape sandwiches.
Here are a few ideas for things you can do with your kids in the kitchen. For more, explore Cooking with Kids on Pinterest.
We make sandwich skewers to take to the pool. It’s fun to eat – food on a stick is always a hit – and if you’ve got kids who (like mine) are hesitant to eat greens or tomatoes, the presentation may encourage kids to try it. This is a great no-cook meal and an almost instant lunch.
Look at all that beautiful, nutritious fruit. Your kids can help wash the fruit and arrange it on the tray in rainbow order. You can swap in fruit that your kids love – or fruit your kids haven’t tried.
This is a favorite playdate food in our house. I can make a bunch of them in no time and the kids can stir the batter, drop the hot dogs in before baking, and dunk them in as much ketchup as they’ll hold.
I don’t know about you, but I live in a house where everybody likes something different on their pizza. We sometimes get mini Boboli crusts from the grocery store and everybody can put their own toppings on. Let the little kids exercise their fine motor skills by spreading the sauce on their own pizzas and sprinkling on their toppings. Offer new things to taste – olives, mushrooms, roasted peppers, different cheeses.
My kid and her friends love ice pops – you know the ones in the plastic tubes that are all corn syrup and food dyes? This is a great way to use the abundance of summer fruit to create a nutritious and sweet treat. You can use a classic freezer pop mold or find reusable silicone pop molds at stores like Sur La Table, or on amazon. Let your child select fruit combinations for these sweet treats, and help wash fruit.
I hope these few ideas will get you started about fun new foods you can try during the summer. My goal for my household is to eat out a bit less and prepare fun healthy foods at home a bit more. Share with us in the comments if you have a favorite fun summer food you enjoy sharing with your kids!